PRIME Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday that the federal government will provide a one-time investment of $26.8 million for immigration and refugee legal aid for 2019-2020.
The government said that in Ontario, this funding is crucial at a time when provincial cuts have jeopardized these vital services. This investment will bring participating provinces up to 100 per cent funding for this year as the government works on the long-term sustainability of legal aid. It will also help address an increase in asylum claims, so that claims for refugee protection continue to be determined fairly, efficiently, and in accordance with the law.
The government said: “How we treat the most vulnerable among us defines who we are,” adding that it takes access to justice seriously, and is working to help reduce uncertainty so that those seeking asylum can focus instead on rebuilding their lives and raising their families.
Trudeau said: “People seeking asylum in Canada often rely on legal aid to make sure their claims are processed fairly and efficiently. But in Ontario, provincial cuts have thrown these vital services into jeopardy. With today’s announcement, the federal government is stepping in. We’re standing up for people in Ontario, and making sure those seeking asylum have access to the legal services they need.”
* The federal government contributes to legal aid for immigration and refugee matters and criminal cases across the country.
* This announcement includes a one-time investment of $26.8 million for immigration and refugee legal aid services in Ontario ($25.7 million), British Columbia ($1.16 million), and Manitoba ($0.02 million).
* In Budget 2019, the federal government invested $49.6 million over three years for immigration and refugee legal aid.
* Individuals can make an asylum claim in Canada at a port of entry, at a Canada Border Services Agency inland office, or an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada inland office. Canada Border Services Agency or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada officials then determine if an individual is eligible to make an asylum claim in Canada.
* Once an individual has been determined to be eligible to make a claim in Canada, they may have access to social assistance, education, health services, emergency housing and legal aid while a decision is pending on their claim.